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Saul's Seance at Endor

"Now Samuel was dead, and all Israel had lamented him, and buried him in Ramah, even in his own city. And Saul had put away those that had familiar spirits, and the wizards, out of the land. And the Philistines gathered themselves together, and came and pitched in Shunem: and Saul gathered all Israel together, and they pitched in Gilboa. And when Saul saw the host of the Philistines, he was afraid, and his heart greatly trembled. And when Saul inquired of The Lord, The Lord answered him not, neither by dreams, nor by Urim, nor by prophets. Then said Saul unto his servants, Seek me a woman that hath a familiar spirit, that I may go to her, and inquire of her." (1 Samuel 28:3-7 KJV)

"these things are an abomination unto The Lord"

The Lord replaced King Saul with King David because Saul proved himself to be a poor leader, a man of erratic judgment. Saul's ordering his own son killed for eating after winning a battle for Saul (see Jonathan) is one blatant example of that. Saul's banning of witches and mediums, and then going to consult one, is another example of why Saul, if he had been permitted to remain as king, would have misled Israel to its destruction.

When The Lord stopped helping him, because Saul was misusing and squandering the help that he was given, Saul sought advice from a witch. Saul held a seance to contact the dead prophet Samuel.


"And his servants said to him, Behold, there is a woman that hath a familiar spirit at Endor.

And Saul disguised himself, and put on other raiment, and he went, and two men with him, and they came to the woman by night: and he said, I pray thee, divine unto me by the familiar spirit, and bring me him up, whom I shall name unto thee.

And the woman said unto him, Behold, thou knowest what Saul hath done, how he hath cut off those that have familiar spirits, and the wizards, out of the land: wherefore then layest thou a snare for my life, to cause me to die?

And Saul sware to her by The Lord, saying, As The Lord liveth, there shall no punishment happen to thee for this thing.

Then said the woman, Whom shall I bring up unto thee?

And he said, Bring me up Samuel." (1 Samuel 28:7-11 KJV)

The dead are dead ("For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing," Ecclesiastes 9:5; see also What Happens When You Die?), however from the Scripture account it seems that the essence of the person that awaits their resurrection (see Resurrections) can be contacted - something that The Lord commanded not to do because it is an "abomination unto The Lord":

"There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For all that do these things are an abomination unto The Lord" (Deuteronomy 18:10-12 KJV)

Nevertheless, Saul consulted a necromancer (i.e. someone who practices divination by conjuring up the dead) with the intent of contacting Samuel.

"And when the woman saw Samuel, she cried with a loud voice: and the woman spake to Saul, saying, Why hast thou deceived me? for thou art Saul.

And the king said unto her, Be not afraid: for what sawest thou?

And the woman said unto Saul, I saw gods ascending out of the earth.

And he said unto her, What form is he of?

And she said, An old man cometh up; and he is covered with a mantle.

And Saul perceived that it was Samuel, and he stooped with his face to the ground, and bowed himself. (1 Samuel 28:12-14 KJV)

Although some are of the opinion that it was not Samuel that was awakened, the Scripture account does not say that it was a fraud, or a demon impostor. The Scriptures plainly say "Samuel said to Saul." And it's also very important to keep in mind that the "Samuel" that was contacted accurately delivered a prophecy from The Lord about Saul's own impending death, or rather death penalty, for doing such evil things as conducting a seance.

"And Samuel said to Saul, Why hast thou disquieted me, to bring me up?

And Saul answered, I am sore distressed; for the Philistines make war against me, and God is departed from me, and answereth me no more, neither by prophets, nor by dreams: therefore I have called thee, that thou mayest make known unto me what I shall do.

Then said Samuel, Wherefore then dost thou ask of me, seeing The Lord is departed from thee, and is become thine enemy? And The Lord hath done to him, as he spake by me: for The Lord hath rent the kingdom out of thine hand, and given it to thy neighbour, even to David: Because thou obeyedst not the voice of The Lord, nor executedst his fierce wrath upon Amalek, therefore hath The Lord done this thing unto thee this day. Moreover The Lord will also deliver Israel with thee into the hand of the Philistines: and to morrow shalt thou and thy sons be with me: The Lord also shall deliver the host of Israel into the hand of the Philistines." (1 Samuel 28:15-19 KJV)

Fact Finder: The prophet Samuel is dead. As a true prophet of God, he will be in the first resurrection. When will that happen?
See When Will You Be Judged?

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